Ed Bullins Essay - Bullins, Ed (Vol. 1)

Bullins, Ed (Vol. 1)

Bullins, Ed 1936?–

Black American playwright.

Bullins is one of the new Negro writers who, writing out of a fierce sense of black identity, refuse to accommodate their vision to white sensibilities.

In each play Bullins attempts to hit a different exacerbated nerve in the life of the black American.

Jack Kroll, "Black Mood" (condensed from Newsweek; © 1968 by Newsweek, Inc.), in Newsweek, March 18, 1968, p. 110.

Bullins does not spend most of his time showing what a whiz he is at creating monologists who gab endlessly in back rooms about their cranky existences. He gives his attention to the impact of one character on another, the blood of drama, not its gristle.

Albert Bermel, in New Leader, April 22, 1968, p. 28.

[Bullins] wrote his autobiography at 18 and "a ponderous novel, short stories, fantasies, dreams, poetry." and published mostly in little Negro magazines and underground newspapers. Eventually he made two major commitments. He turned from what had become a "middle-class orientation" to a black self-awareness (his close friend and chief literary influence is LeRoi Jones), and in 1965 he began writing plays.

Mel Gussow, "The New Playwrights" (condensed from Newsweek; © 1968 by Newsweek, Inc.), in Newsweek, May 20, 1968, p. 115.

The white problem in America is at the core of all Bullins's work. He denies being a working-class playwright: he is from the criminal class. All the other men in his family have been in prison. He is the only one who went to high school, who went to college; but he claims that working people in Harlem like his surrealist, intellectual plays.

D. A. N. Jones, in Listener, August 22, 1968, p. 253.

[In 1969] the New Lafayette presented In the Wine Time by its resident playwright, Ed Bullins. It fascinated me that In the Wine Time, produced by an the only "black" play I saw this season not obsessed organization consciously devoted to Black Power, was by Whitey. There were, to be sure, occasional references, but the central purpose of the play was "to celebrate the Black experience" for fellow blacks…. Ed Bullins occupies much the position in today's vanguard of black writers that Lorraine Hansberry did ten years ago.

Martin Duberman, in Partisan Review, No. 3, 1969, p. 489-90.

Ed Bullins, out of Genet via LeRoi Jones, writes like a man trying to dislodge a big white monkey from his back. His obsession is the corruption of black integrity by white values. His plays are composed like effigies, specially designed to torture his enemies, and based on the magical assumption that if one destroys the symbol often enough, the reality will also get impaired. Like the vendettas of LeRoi Jones, they belong less to the conventions of art than they do to the world of black magic. Which is precisely why they are so fascinating in the theater.

Charles Marowitz, "America's Great Hopes, White and Black?" (© 1969 by The New York Times Company; reprinted by permission), in New York Times, April 13, 1969.

Bullins' gifts as a writer have been demonstrated in Electronic Nigger and other plays. But despite the comparative polish in the writing and the symbolic stage imagery of [The Gentleman Caller], I suspect he wrote it to fulfill a "popular" need. And though this may be laudable, I find that in accomplishing it, he has unwittingly written down to his audience.

Harold Clurman, in Nation, May 12, 1969, p. 612.

Bullins is too good a playwright to write a play of rhetoric. Instead he turns out something [Death List] which, it may be too impulsive to say, might become a minor classic of Black Theatre. It is a document of our times by the Minister of Culture of the Black Panther Party.

Show Business, October 17, 1970.